Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adventures So Far In Wisconsin

Aside from unpacking my things and eating Pringles and drinking coffee, this is what you've missed so far:

"Oh honey, come here!"
I go to the living room with my coffee to where my Dad is. He's pointing at the television.
"Look, look! They're repaving the walk because a tree uprooted it! Isn't this exciting?"
I end up watching the show with him for a good twenty minutes and learn a lot about digging up roots that are lifting up the cement walk in front of your countryside home. Followed by a helpful guide to visitors of Wisconsin in how to identify the many types of cows you may see while driving down a Wisconsin highway.

I fold laundry while talking to my mom. I fold up a shirt and set it down. She picks up the shirt I just folded, opens it up again and re-folds it.
"Mom. Why."

Grif: Hey, Haley, how was Japan?
Mom: Well, we got lost going to the airport!
Dad: Lin, he asked Haley how Japan was.
Grif: How did you get lost with a GPS?
Mom: Well we got a little turned around near the terminals and which one to take...(continues on)
Never did get to tell him how Japan was.

(Dad lays down and puts newspaper over his face to block out the sun during his nap)
Me: You know, they make eyemasks for exactly this sort of situation.
Dad: I know, I made one. (Pats hand on newspaper)

Me: Hey Mom, now that you have the whole family together again, are you going to start cooking every night like you used to?
Mom: ...
Me: Mom?
Mom: ...What?
Me: Cooking, mom. Do you remember what a stove is?
Mom: ...I...What...? (glances shiftily out window)
Dad: I try to turn the knobs on it once in a while to make sure they still work.

Gizmo (my pet bird) : Tweet tweet, bitches. (No, but in actuality he did start going on a chirping frenzy when I walked in through the door. He is currently twittering and squeaking a little melody out right now. Birds are actually fantastic, social, underrated pets.)

Aaaaand it's not even 11 AM.

It's good to be home.

Update: We just ordered food from Pop's. I'm getting my cheeseburger, fries, and shake. I also plan on gaining 30 pounds. Because America, that's why.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Things I've Done

I've done my laundry.

I've packed up my big luggage bag and had it delivered to the airport.

I've cleaned the kitchen of the dorm, along with my own room.

I've got the last of my possessions in a bag sitting next to my desk, where only my laptop, which I use now, occupies it.

I've said goodbye to my first, wonderful, talkative, welcoming, warm, host mom. I said goodbye to my second family long ago.

I've received my certificate from Nanzan University, stating that I have successfully completed their Japanese Program.

I've gathered the papers I'll need at the airport.

I have four more days, but I'm still reflecting on the things I've seen and done in my nine-month stay in Japan.

I spent a week in Tokyo, my first week in Japan. I saw my first temples and shrines and rode the trains and the subways, and got lost when I went alone. I kept my cool, made it back to my cousin's house, and I felt proud.

I got to Nagoya and met my first host mom, the person who has taken care of me better than anyone else in this city. She fed me, she talked with me, laughed with me, joked with me, encouraged me, supported me, and consoled me when I got lost...again.

I went to school and every weekday morning from 9:20AM to 12:35PM, I studied Japanese. Grammar, vocabulary, complex chinese characters, stories, newspaper articles, projects, speeches, papers, drafts, short tests, oral tests, and exams.

I met David and Jeff, and we spent our weekends at bars or karaoke or restaurants.

I met Lisa, Julie, Valerie, Shelley, Erika, and Kate, and we spent more time at bars, karaoke, restaurants, and going on day trips.

I went to see mummies in a town nearby, went to Ise, Nagoya Castle, trips to see a mummy in temples in the mountains. I went to Disney Sea and traveled around Tokyo with Ayame, and I participated in a Japanese wedding in Shikoku where I was the flower girl and gave a toast at the ceremony. I spent a fantastic weekend with my friend, seeing the oldest hot spring Japan has to offer, along with Matsuyama Castle and more.

I went to KFC with a large group of friends for Thanksgiving. I ate Christmas cake on Christmas. I had an incredibly busy, exhilarating, Japanese New Years'.

I switched host families and spent many days in museums and the zoo and parks and gardens. I traveled to Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka with Ayame. I traveled to Hiroshima and Miyajima alone. I went to Gifu, Utsumi, and Inuyama. I saw temples and shrines and gardens and parks and monuments and history.

I bought a new coat and boots and was told I looked like a Japanese girl, and that more impressive, I sounded like one. I came to read Japanese novels and watched Japanese shows and movies, and I understood them all.

I made friends from all over the world; Japan, France, The Netherlands, Jordan, Germany, India, Indonesia, China, Africa, and of course, America.

I have seen and loved so much, and I have only gained in my time spent in Japan.

Thank you for reading my blog, for supporting me, for caring about me. I may continue it even when I'm back in the states, as I will no doubt cope with what's called "Reverse Culture Shock." So check back now and again and maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised with a new post.

Thank you, everyone.

For everything.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life has been busy

Well, it was busy. As of late I've been spending a lot of time doing nothing, which is equally great, but two weekends ago I was busier than ever.

On Saturday, I went shopping with Ayame and her friend, Janie. We looked at a lot of stuff but I found a whole lot of nothing, though Janie found some great finds and put a dent in her wallet. We met up with Shuji later and ate some AWESOME Indian curry with naan bread and it was delicious and amazing, 5/5, would go back again. Afterwards, we went bowling, and it turns out I'm about as good as bowling in Japan as I am in America. That is to say, I have crap skill. But it was still fun, and a few strikes were had, and then we went to a Purikura machine to end our night.

It's the only way to properly end an evening in Japan.

I had left so late that I almost missed the last train back, but thanks to Shuji, I made it back on time, and made it safely home.

We had that Monday off, so me and many others decided to go to Little World, where you can visit over 18 countries in a single theme park! Each country had its own village, which included food from there, along with typical attire to wear for that culture, and stores where you could buy souvenirs, jewelry, clothes, food, etc, all from the country you were visiting. It was actually really fun, it made me feel like a world traveler. I won't show you all the pictures - they're on my facebook - but a few snippits to get the idea.
We started with Taiwan!

Inside a Taiwan house

They had a village for America pre-colonization

My friends!

To Peru!

And Indonesia!

Yah, yah, Deutschland! 

Yah, yah, Deutschland lassies! Wait what

Italy in the distance

My friends dressed up as a prince and princess in Italy. Or was it Romeo and Juliet...

On the way to Africa


The French wearing Sari

And Thailand!

A glimpse of Korea

After Little World, my day was not done - I hopped on a train and headed to Komaki, Ayame's hometown. 

 I love trains.

Ayame's family had invited me to a BBQ at their house, and I accepted. It was DELICIOUS. Nothing wrong with some good meat on a fire, that's for sure. I talked with Ayame's dad in English a lot that night, per Ayame's request - he's an English teacher and I imagine he doesn't come across native speakers too often. We had a lot of discussions - friendly guy, good English, and a knack for conversation. Ayame's mom was also really nice, and I got along well with everyone else. Ayame's boyfriend was there, who I met for the first time, and it was just a really nice gathering with delicious food and cocktails and I really enjoyed myself.

The following day, I went out with Ayame to lunch for her birthday. We ate at a buffet and they gave her a brownie and ice cream for having a birthday! Great. Great. 

And this is a picture of the park I walk past on my way home from Nanzan. I just really like fields.

Sorry I didn't put a lot of emotion into this post, but I wanted to let you guys know what I've been up to. 

I'll be returning to the states in two and a half weeks. I seriously can't believe it. I knew from the beginning, before I even came to Japan, that at one point I would be saying, "I can't believe how fast time has gone, I'm already going back home," and I STILL can't believe it. I remember the first four months really well for some reason, but the last four months have been a blur. I remember being busy with school and having a few festivals and going out but it just went so FAST. I know that's how time works but, damn. It's crazy.

I remember arriving here like it was yesterday, I remember seeing the shore of Japan for the first time ever, far above the ocean in an airplane. I've seen and experienced so much. I love Japan and the friends I've made here and how far my Japanese had developed. I've really grown and changed.

But I guess you'll see that for yourselves in a few weeks!